Answers for the Polyamory 101 2018 Survey

At the end of the Polyamory 101 panel at CONvergence 2018, I had released a survey that asked for any questions that people wanted to ask but didn't have the opportunity to, as well as asked what people would like to have discussed at a future panel. I had hoped to answer these questions several months ago, but unfortunately things got in the way.

I’ve had plenty of time to give each of these questions ample thought, however. That’s not to say that I’m an expert in polyamory - I wouldn’t trust anybody who claimed to be an expert. I’m just a person who happens to be polyamorous, and these are my views on the asked questions. What works for me might not work for you - always keep an open mind and be willing to talk to other people.

Were there any questions that you wanted to ask but didn't have the opportunity to?

What are some common examples of polyamorous configurations and how do they function (triads, V's, hierarchies etc)

Despite what is depicted in the media, I don’t think that there actually is a “common” configuration; rather, there are configurations that are considered to be more “socially acceptable” than others. Often times you’ll see an article on polyamory that has a stock photo of a white middle-class thruple in bed, their feet sticking out of the covers, and it’ll typically be a man and two women. But the world of relationships is very diverse - especially because what a relationship means to one person may mean something different to another person. However, I’ll do my best to answer this question as I understand it. Note: this list is in no way a definitive list of terms.
A triad relationship refers to a group of three people who usually, but not necessarily, are all dating each other. It can be an “open” or “closed” relationship; that is, one where the members are consensually available to explore other sexual and/or romantic relationships outside of the triad or not.
A “V” relationship is like a triad, but two of the members aren’t in a romantic relationship with each other.
A quad is like a triad, but with four people instead of three.
Solo-polyamory is what some people call it when one is not in a relationship that is heading towards becoming merged into a so-called primary-style relationship (moving in together, merging finances, and the like), or is not in any relationships that move up the relationship escalator. This can occur due to happenstance or because of personal convictions.
Polyam/mono or mono/polyam relationships are where one partner is monogamous and the other is polyamorous. The monogamous person is only with the polyamorous person, but the polyamorous person may or might not be in sexual and/or romantic relationships with people other than the monogamous partner.
A hierarchy isn’t a configuration, per se, but is more akin to tiering the relationships that one is in. A person’s relationship with their spouse might be the primary relationship, and that person’s relationship with their partner might be the secondary relationship. All forms of polyamorous relationships can be hierarchical, and if that works for the members involved, then the more power to them. But that’s not something that works universally and, in my opinion, much be approached with extreme caution.

More Than Two has a fantastic glossary of terms with much more information. I highly recommend checking it out.

No currently, but I might in the future as my relationship with my primary partner and others grows and evolves.

I hope that your relationships are hale and hearty and full of love!

What would you like to have discussed next time?

I think a deeper discussion on jealousy, and on dealing with a bad relationship while maintaining your good ones.

These are excellent topics - I hope that we can get to these at a future panel.

Intersections of polyamory, race, and queerness
Raising children
Suggestions for coming out to family/friends
Polyamory in other cultures past and present; rise of monogamy

Such a diverse suggestion! I personally won’t be able to contribute to raising children with any first-hand knowledge, but I’ll do my best to involve people who can. For the rest of these, if we can’t get into any deep dives during future panels, I’ll do my best to expand on them here on the website.

I would love to discuss non-monogamous relationships within the aro/ace spec community more. It's been my experience as a relative outsider that the common conception of non-monogamy is that those involved just want to have sex with more than one person. I know this to not be true, and as someone who identifies in the aro/ace spectrum I would love more visibility and discussion around it.

Final thoughts. I loved the panel, but felt crowded out by a large Polyamorous community that was not in need of a 101, but more wanted to provide 101. I'm interested for the next panel (or another 101) making sure there is space for those who are new/curious to the topic and not getting left behind on certain topics that the majority of the room already seems to know or understand. Perhaps connecting with the community to be a resource for those new to non-monogamy outside of the panel? They are clearly enthusiastic and supportive, but I feel that energy was a little overwhelming at the panel. (this is NOT the only panel to suffer from this.)

I, too, would love to have more discussion about non-monogamy within ARO/ACE spec communities. I am not ARO/ACE, and would not be comfortable speaking for the communities, but I will do my best to bring in ARO/ACE voices.
I also agree with you with the energy level of the community - it is my hope that having both a 101 and 201 panel in the future will help mitigate some of this. Also, the idea for connecting with the community outside of the panel is a great one - hopefully we can make this easy to accomplish in the future.

Being poly with children. Both long term poly relationships where the children live with the extra partners or are around them very often, and also how to simply talk to your kids about the fact that you sometimes date other people.

This is a wonderful expansion on the polyam with children question. It probably could be its own panel, honestly - we will see how things go as time permits.

Polyamorous families with kids!

A very popular suggestion.

Have these Panels at non cons. I don't want to go to convergence, I want to go to just this panel

That would be lovely! I’ll see if there are any in the metro area.

In a 201 I’d like to hear more discussion of jealousy and how to handle it.

I hope that we can accomplish this!

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